Lord Rewards

Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
~ Hebrews 11:26

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
~ Genesis 15:1

The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
~ Ruth 2:12

So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
~ Psalm 58:11

The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
~ Proverbs 11:18

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
~ 1 Chronicles 28:9

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
~ Psalm 105:3-4

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
~ Proverbs 8:17

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
~ Song of Solomon 3:1-4

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
~ Jeremiah 29:13-14

A Sermon on Hebrews 11:6, by Thomas Manton. The following contains an excerpt from his sermon.


And that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.—HEB. 11:6.

(5.) THIS seeking must be our ἔργσν, our business, as well as our scope; a thing that we would not mind by the by, but as the great work we are to do in our lives here in the world: Deut. 4:29, ‘Thou shalt find him if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul;’ and Jer. 29:13, ‘Ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart;’ and 2 Chron. 15:15, ‘They sought him with all their hearts, and their whole desire, and he was found of them. Many are convinced that they cannot be happy without the favour of God; their consciences tell them they must seek after God, but their affections carry them to the world. Oh, but when your whole hearts are in this, when you make it your great business, then shall you find him. If you content yourselves to look after God by the by only, and as a recreation, and with a few slight endeavours, and do not make this the great employment of your lives, you will never find him. Certainly we were made for God, it was the end of our creation; therefore this must be the business of your lives. God made us for himself, and we can never be happy without himself. And as it was the end of our creation, so it is the end of his gracious forbearance and indulgence in the course of his providence. Wherefore doth God forbear with sinning man, when he punished the apostate angels presently? —’That they might seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him,’ Acts 17:27. We do not live to live, but we live to seek God. When we had lost God by Adam’s apostasy, God might have cut off all hope that ever we should find him again; as the angels, when they lost their chiefest good, could never recover their first estate. But it is God’s indulgence to deal with us upon more gracious terms, that we might seek after him. God needed not seek the creatures, he had happiness enough in himself; but we needed such a creator. He that hides himself from the sun impairs not the light thereof. We derogate nothing from God, but it is a loss of benefit to us that we seek him not, for the present and for the future. If you seek him, you shall be happy for the present; for the God of Jacobhath pawned his word to you that none shall seek him in vain:’ Isa. 45:19, ‘I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain; and Ps. 22:26, ‘They shall praise the Lord that seek him.’ You will have cause to bless God ere the search be over. And for the future: Amos 5:6, ‘Seek the Lord, and ye shall live well then.’ Here is the great work and business of your lives, diligently to seek after God. Though it may be at first you do not find him, yet comfort thyself that thou art in the seeking way, still in pursuit of him. Better be a seeker than a wanderer: Ps. 24:6, ‘This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.’ Though thou dost not presently feel the love of God, and hast no assurance of thy pardon, nor sensible comfort from his Spirit, yet continue seeking; here is your business, here is your work.

2. Why is this put here, ‘He that cometh to God must believe that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’? (1.) It is put exclusively. Privileges in scripture are propounded with their necessary limitation; we disjoint the frame of religion, if we would sever the reward from the duty. God is a rewarder, but to whom? To the careless, to the negligent? Oh, no! he will be an avenger to them: Ps. 9:17, ‘The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God;’ not only they that deny God, but they that forget God, that do not seek after him. As they cast God out of their mind and affections, so God will cast them out of his presence. (2.) It is put inclusively: God will impartially reward every one that seeks him, without any distinction. The door of grace stands open for all comers. Every one that seeketh God finds entertainment, not only in regard of the answers of grace for the present, but as to eternal recompenses hereafter.

(1.) For the present. Oh, do not conceive of God after a carnal manner! It was the corrupt theology of the gentiles, Dii magna curant, parva negligunt, that the gods did look after great things, but small and petty things they left to others, as if the great God did act according to the advice of Jethro to Moses: Exod. 18:21, 22, ‘Thou shalt appoint rulers of thousands, hundreds, and fifties, and tens, and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.’ But the Lord’s providence here in the world extends to every one that seeketh him, and he hearkens to the prayers of the poorest beggar as well as the greatest monarch; persons despicable in the world may find audience and acceptance with God: Ps. 34:6, ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him;’ David speaks it of himself, when he was a ruddy youth following the ewes great with young. There is none among the sons of men that hath cause to say as Isa. 40:27, ‘My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God;’ that is, God hath so much to do in the world that he forgets me, he doth not mind my case; for the Lord hath a providence.

(2.) Hereafter they will find in him a rewarder. There is none so poor but he will find God makes good his promise. There is a notable expression, Eph. 6:8, ‘Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.’ He speaks to encourage servants (who at that time were slaves) in singleness of heart to go about their duty. Even the basest drudgery of servants is a doing good, and comes within the compass of those good works which God will take notice of. God does not look to the external splendour of the work but to the honesty and sincerity of it, though it be of a poor drudge and slave that is faithful in his calling. Nay, God will rather forget princes, lords, and mighty men of the earth, vain and sinful potentates, than pass by a poor servant that fears him. You find that God gave the angels charge over Lazarus’ soul, Luke 16:22, ‘The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.’ The beggar’s soul is thus conducted in state to heaven. Whoever seeks him will be sure to find him a rewarder.

Secondly, I come to the nature of this faith. You have seen the thing that is to be believed; but how is it to be believed?

1. It must be a firm and certain persuasion. The reward is sure on God’s part. Men may be ignorant, forgetful, unthankful, as Pharaoh’s butler forgat Joseph, Gen. 40:23; but the Lord is righteous, and will not forget your labour of love: Prov. 11:18, ‘To him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.’ It may be the work you do for God is like ploughing or sowing, difficult and hard work, but we are sure of an excellent crop. When we feel nothing but trouble and inconvenience, sense will make lies of God, and we are apt to say, ‘I have cleansed my heart in vain,’ Ps. 73:13. But the Lord will not forget this service you do for him. Under the law God would not have the hireling defrauded of his wages because he hath lifted up his soul to it. The man comforted himself with this thought: he should have his recompense at night. So when thou hast lifted up thy soul to look for those great things promised, God looks upon himself as bound; therefore this must be entertained with a strong faith, and without doubting. We read in scripture of a threefold assurance; an ‘assurance of understanding,’ Col. 2:2; an ‘assurance of faith,’ Heb. 10:22; and an ‘assurance of hope,’ Heb. 6:11. All this represents the firmness of that assent by which we should receive the promises.

2. It must not be a naked assent, but a lively and operative faith, urging and encouraging us to seek after God upon those hopes. There are many that are able to dispute for the truth of the rewards of religion, but yet do not feel the virtue of them. This is not enough, to have notions and opinions that God is a rewarder, but we must have a lively operative faith: Phil. 3:14, ‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.’ That is a due apprehension of the reward, when we are engaged thereby to the duties which the reward calls for: Heb. 11:13, ‘They were persuaded of them, and embraced them;’ when it ravishes the affections and engageth the heart; when it keeps us from fainting under the cross, 2 Cor. 4:16; when it abates the eagerness of our pursuit after worldly things; when we are more contented with a little here, because we are persuaded we shall have enough with God. A rich man that hath a vast inheritance of his own, to see him among the poor that glean up the ears of corn that were scattered, this were an uncomely thing. Oh! do we look for so great blessedness, and are we scraping so much in the world, —’We that are begotten to a lively hope’? 1 Peter 1:3. Such a faith produceth sobriety and moderation to worldly things; 1 Peter 1:13, ‘Be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ In short, we that look for such things should give diligence to be found of him; and what manner of persons ought we to be?’ 2 Peter 3:11. If it be not a dead and a naked opinion only, to dispute about the rewards of religion, but a well-grounded confidence, it will quicken our endeavours, moderate our desires, allay the bitterness of the cross, and help us on in the way to heaven.

3. It is an applicative faith. We must believe God is not only a rewarder, but say with Paul, This he will be to me; for so we have the expression, 2 Tim. 4:8, ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,’ &c.; this is proposed and made over to me for my comfort and my quickening. Salvation in general hath no such an efficacy: 1 Cor. 9:26, ‘I run, not as uncertain.’ In the Isthmic games, to which the apostle alludes, held near Corinth, a man might run, but he was not certain whether he should have the goal or no; but I run not as uncertain, as one that hath the prize in view, and am comfortably assured I shall obtain it. This quickeneth us to a comfortable, willing industry.

Thirdly, The influence that it hath upon our obedience and service to God.

1. To keep the heart free and ingenuous. We are apt to look upon God as a Pharaoh, harsh and austere, as if he had required work where he will not give wages. But think of his mercy and kindness, and readiness to reward the services of his people, that you may come to him with an ingenuous confidence. Our obligations to God are absolute; we are bound to serve him, though nothing should come of it. Ay, but he is pleased to move us by rewards, ‘to draw us with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love,’ Hos. 11:4. When he might rule us with a rod of iron, and require duty out of mere power and sovereignty, he will govern us rationally, by precepts and rewards. Men do not use to enter into covenant with a slave, yet God is pleased to indent with us; he would have us to look upon him as a rewarder. In all our services we are to remember that God is, that we may be aweful; and ‘he is a rewarder,’ that we may be ingenuous.

2. To keep the heart sincere and upright. Oh, there is nothing makes the heart so sincere as to make God our paymaster, and to look for our reward from him only. Carnal affections will draw us to seek praise and honour of men, some present profit, some reward here: Mat. 6:2, ‘They have their reward,’ and give God a discharge; but a man’s sincerity is to look for all his reward from God: Col. 3:23, ‘Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance.’ You have a master good enough, and need not look for your pay elsewhere.

3. To quicken us in our duty, and make us vigorous and cheerful and diligent in our service: 1 Cor 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.’ Idols can do nothing for their worshippers; these will deceive you, but God will not be served for nought; your duty that you do to him will return into your bosoms, and will bring a blessing; not like a ball struck into the air, that returns not again to you, but like a ball struck against a wall, that returns to your hand again. Let us who are bred up in the belief of this principle, bless God—

(1.) That there is a reward. He might have cut off all hopes and left us under the despair of the first covenant, and then our guilty fears would represent God under no other notion but that of an avenger; and our punishment might have begun with our sin, as the fallen angels were held in chains of darkness, under an everlasting horrible despair of mending their condition. When once we had lost God, we might never have found him more; his language to the fallen creature might have been only thunder and wrath. Or if he would quit us from what is past, and release our punishment for the future, he might only have ruled us with a rod of iron, and imposed laws upon us out of mere sovereignity, and say, Thus and thus shall ye do, ‘I am the Lord;’ or, at least, have held us in bondage, and suspended the publication of a new and better covenant, and kept it in his own breast, that we might wholly stand to his arbitrary will, whether he would reward—yea, or no. Thus the Lord might have done with us; but he will rather draw us by the cords of a man, hold us to our duty by the sense of our own interest, and give us leave to encourage ourselves with the thoughts of his bounty. There are many in the world that think it unsafe to use God’s motives, and destroy his grace, for which we have cause to bless God. They say, God is to be worshipped, though we had no benefit by him, merely for the excellency of his being; but this is but a fancy and an airy religion; to abstract religion from rewards is to frame a religion in conceit. The two first notions of God are his being and his bounty, and we must reflect upon both. It is a description of the people of God, Rom. 2:7, ‘That by patient continuance in well doing, they seek for honour, and glory, and immortality.’ We may seek honour from God; and a great part of our sincerity lies in this, to make God our paymaster; and therefore let us bless God that there is a reward.